After the revelation that AT&T employees helped some Kris Allen fans vote for free, the show’s producers, network, and sponsor responded in carefully written corporate statements that will do nothing to alleviate conspiracy theorists, in part because they ignore the more damning parts of the initial story, like the way AT&T employees encouraged “power texting” and provided texts for free.
First, in a tangentially related story, AT&T has revealed exactly how many text votes were received all season: 178 million. That’s “the highest total for any season and more than double the 78 million messages AT&T reported last year,” according to a press release. By comparison, just under 100 million total votes were cast during the finale.
As to the finale vote controversy, The New York Times followed up its initial report with a story that clarified its own reporting, in addition to including the companies’ statements. The paper reports that “Fox had declined to comment” and “[r]epresentatives of Fox and AT&T declined to comment on whether similar texting services were offered at other viewing parties this year or in previous seasons.” More significantly, the paper says that now, “A Fox spokeswoman declined to comment on the margin of victory that [Kris] Allen enjoyed over the runner-up, Adam Lambert.”
After the Times’ initial story, Fox, FremantleMedia, and 19 Entertainment said in a statement:
“Fox and the producers of ‘American Idol’ are absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified. Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol. We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition.”
And AT&T’s statement said:
“Last week, countless parties were held in homes, bars, and other public places across America to watch the ‘American Idol’ finale. In Arkansas, a few local AT&T employees were invited to attend two local watch parties organized by the community. Caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant, they brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested. Going forward, we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants. That said, it’s quite a leap to suggest that a few individuals could have impacted the final results.”
AT&T is pretty dismissive while still being careful to emphasize how minimal their employees’ participation was–”a few,” “a small”–while comparing that to the “countless” number of other voting parties, where who knows what kind of voting depravity went on.
‘Idol’ Producers Stand by Outcome [The New York Times]